GIRONA’S Savio Moreira (R) vies for the ball with Kike Perez of Rayo Vallecano during their La Liga match at the Montilivi Stadium.—AFP
GIRONA’S Savio Moreira (R) vies for the ball with Kike Perez of Rayo Vallecano during their La Liga match at the Montilivi Stadium.—AFP

BARCELONA: Girona’s Braz­ilian winger Savio scored twice in added time to help the hosts beat Rayo Vallecano 3-0 in torrential rain on Monday and lift the season’s surprise La Liga package back to second place in the standings.

After two consecutive losses, Girona got back on track and now have 59 points, six behind Real Madrid and two ahead of third-placed Barcelona.

The season’s early pacesetters, Girona were unbeaten in 15 successive league games until a 4-0 thrashing at Real Madrid and a 3-2 loss away to Athletic Bilbao that provided a reality check for the Catalans’ lofty title ambitions.

On Monday, they dominated possession against Rayo but struggled to find the net on a surface that deteriorated in the downpour, creating one shot on target in the first half.

Girona’s Ukraine forward Artem Dovbyk, the third highest scorer in La Liga this season with 14 goals, missed three close-range chances but they broke the deadlock with a first time effort by his compatriot Viktor Tsygankov in the 52nd minute.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Pep Chavarria was sent off in the 76th after getting two yellow cards in quick succession and jet-heeled Savio made the most of two quick counter attacks to work his magic, striking twice in a four minute spell to wrap up the points for the Catalan side.

“The scoring does not reflect what the match was like, because it was evenly matched,” Girona manager Michel told DAZN. “However, I’m glad that we’ve regained second place.

We’re once again the top scorers in La Liga. These are data we like and make us want to remain the same until the end of the season.”

Girona have now scored 57 times in 26 matches, one more than Barcelona and three goals ahead of Real Madrid.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2024

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